An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Etlingera fimbriobracteata

Etlingera fimbriobracteata

The wax flower (Etlingera fimbriobracteata (K.Schum.) R.M.Sm. 1986) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Zingiberaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Liliopsida,
Zingiberales Order,
Family Zingiberaceae,
Subfamily Alpinioideae,
Tribe Alpinieae
Genus Etlingera,
Species E. fimbriobracteata.
The term is basiùyonim:
– Amomum fimbriobracteatum K.Schum..
The terms are synonymous:
– Amomum pandanicarpum Elmer;
– Etlingera pandanicarpa (Elmer) A.D.Poulsen;
– Geanthus fimbriobracteatus (K.Schum.) B.L.Burtt & R.M.Sm.;
– Hornstedtia pandanicarpa (Elmer) Elmer.

Etymology –
The term Etlingera is in honor of the 18th century German botanist Andreas Ernst Etlinger, author of the “Commentatio Botanico-Medica de Salvia” (1777).
The specific epithet fimbriobracteata comes from the Latin “fimbriatus, a, um”, i.e. fringed and “bracteatus, a, um”, i.e. equipped with bracts, in reference to its floral bracts with fringed apex.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Etlingera fimbriobracteata is a plant native to Borneo, in the regions of Brunei and Sarawak.
Its natural habitat is that of the edges of rainforests and on the banks of waterways, at low and medium altitudes.

Description –
Etlingera fimbriobracteata is a perennial, evergreen herbaceous species that grows from a rhizome; it grows up to 1.5-6 m in height, forming tufts with rather spaced pseudo-stems.
These are equipped with oblong leaves with an entire margin and a pointed apex, 120-130 cm long and 14-18 cm wide.
The inflorescences are borne by a short peduncle, which is often hidden by the layer of plant debris covering the forest floor; the peduncle arises directly from the rhizome near the base of the pseudostem.
The inflorescences are about 12 cm long and are made up of sterile, leathery, imbricate bracts arranged in a spiral, which enclose a compact spike made up of bright red bracts with fringed apex, 3-3.5 cm long; these contain up to a hundred intense yellow flowers that open in succession for a few weeks.
The flowers have a tubular calyx about 5 cm long, a corolla with a tube shorter than the calyx, about 4 cm, and 3 oblong lobes, an obovate labellum, anthers with an orange apex and a red stigma.
The fruit has a globular shape, about 8 cm long and 10 cm wide; it is composed of a multitude of closely spaced capsules that are reddish when ripe.

Cultivation –
Etlingera fimbriobracteata is a plant native to Borneo where it is used and collected, even in its natural state.
This plant is characterized by ornamental foliage and curious bright inflorescences; it is little known outside its areas of origin and rarely cultivated in gardens and botanical collections.
It is a plant with a distinctly tropical adaptation, which, to be cultivated, needs a constant hot-humid climate, full sun or partially shaded exposure and draining soils rich in organic substance kept constantly humid.
Outside the tropical areas it can be grown in open ground or in large containers, only in large hot-humid greenhouses, with minimum temperatures not lower than 18 °C and humidity 80% and above.
It should be watered frequently but avoiding stagnation, as it is easily subject to root rot; it is therefore advisable to let the surface layer of the substrate dry before watering again. Nebulizations are useful to maintain a high level of humidity, with non-calcareous water at room temperature, to avoid unsightly stains on the leaves.
As regards the addition of fertilizers, these must be carried out in the spring-summer period, preferably with slow-release water-soluble products with microelements. It is easily subject to parasite attacks in a closed environment and must therefore be frequently checked in order to be able to intervene promptly with specific products.
The plant propagates by seed, but more easily by division using a portion of the rhizome of about 20 cm in length with at least one pseudostem equipped with leaves, shortened to reduce transpiration, and some dormant buds.
The rhizome should be placed just under the surface of the soil, which must be rich in organic substance and particularly draining, to avoid rot from water stagnation, in an environment with temperatures of 26-30 °C and humidity around 90%.

Customs and Traditions –
Etlingera fimbriobracteata is a plant known by some vernacular names including: tolidus (Sabah), layun (Singapore).
This monocotyledonous species was first described by Karl Moritz Schumann and received its current name by Rosemary Margaret Smith. No subspecies are present.
This plant has the characteristic of having inflorescences which also bear around a hundred corollas, of an intense yellow colour, which open in succession for weeks and which emerge like mushrooms from the ground.
In the areas of origin, the fruits and young shoots are consumed as vegetables by local populations; these are added to traditional dishes.
The leaves are used to wrap food, to make mats, hats and other handicrafts and as a covering for makeshift shelters in the forest. Laboratory studies have highlighted the presence of bioactive compounds with antimicrobial and antioxidant activity of potential interest for the official pharmacopoeia in the extracts of various parts of the plant.
In fact, essential oils can be obtained from this plant, extracted from the leaves, aerial stems, basal stems and rhizomes.
From the gas chromatographic and spectrometric analysis it was seen that the main components of these essential oils are: β-pinene (67.8%) and 1,8-cineole (37.2%) coming respectively from the leaves and aerial stems , while the decanal is the main component of the basal stems and rhizomes (27.5% and 34.4%, respectively).
Laboratory tests have been carried out relating to the antioxidant activities of the oils, using various in vitro tests; the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and 2,2′-azino-bis(3-ethylbenzothiazolin-6-sulfonic acid) (ABTS) free radical scavenging tests, the power capacity test reducing agent (RPA) and the iron reducing antioxidant power test (FRAP). In all tests, essential oils from different parts of the plant showed very poor antioxidant activity compared to those of the reference standards, ascorbic acid (AA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). However, all oils showed moderate to potent broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against all strains tested except Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In disk diffusion and broth microdilution tests, the zones of inhibition and MIC values of essential oils ranged from 8 to 87.7 mm and 2.4 to 625 μg/mL, respectively. Due to their strong antimicrobial activity, E. fimbriobracteata essential oils could be a potential alternative to conventional antimicrobials in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Preparation Method –
Etlingera fimbriobracteata is a plant used, especially by local populations for food purposes or for the use of some of its parts.
In the food sector, the fruits and young shoots are used as vegetables and are added to traditional dishes.
The leaves are used to wrap foods but also to make various materials, including: mats, hats and other craft objects or to cover in forests as emergency shelter.
The use of its essential oil could be interesting instead. As mentioned, they could be a good alternative to conventional antimicrobials in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical fields.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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